Great Ape Project – GAP

The Great Ape Project ( GAP ), founded in 1993, is an international organization of primatologists, anthropologists, ethicists and others who advocate a UN declaration on the rights of great apes that would give basic legal rights of non-human great apes: chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans.

The rights that are proposed are the right to life, protection of individual liberty, and the prohibition of torture. The organization also monitors individual great ape activity in the United States through a census program. Once rights are established GAP would demand the release of great apes from captivity; 3100 currently held in the US, including 1280 in the biomedical research facilities.

The Great Ape Project (bok)

The book of the same name, edited by philosophers Paola Cavalieri and Peter Singer, features contributions from thirty writers, including Jane Goodall and Richard Dawkins, who submitted articles expressing their support for the project. The authors write that people are intelligent animals with a varied social, emotional and cognitive life. If the great apes also show such characteristics, the authors argue that they deserve the same consideration humans extend to members of their own species.

The book highlights the results that support the capacity of the great apes to have rationality and self-awareness, and the ability to be aware of themselves as separate entities with a past and future. Documented conversations (in sign language) with the individual apes are the basis for these conclusions. Other topics covered in the book include the division positioned between humans and apes, great apes as persons, progress in gaining rights for the severely retarded (once an overlooked minority), and the plight of great apes in the world today.

Their biological similarity to humans is also key to the properties they are valuable as subjects. For example, testing of monoclonal antibody treatments can not be done in species less similar to humans than chimpanzees. Because antibodies do not elicit immune responses in chimpanzees, they persist in the blood as they do in people, and their impact can be evaluated. In monkeys and other non-monkeys antibodies cleared rapidly from the bloodstream. Monoclonal antibody treatments developed for cancer; autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, and Crohn’s disease; and asthma. Chimpanzees also have unique advantages in evaluating new hepatitis B and C vaccines and treatments for malaria, again because of the similarity in their response to these antigens to humans. [1]

Declaration on Great Apes

The Great Ape Project a campaign to get the UN to support a statement about great apes. [2] This would extend what the project calls “community of equals” to include chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans. The declaration is intended to include non-human great apes protection of three basic interests: the right to life, protection of individual liberty, and the prohibition of torture.

Right to life

The declaration says that members of the community of equals, including humans, can not be killed except in certain strictly defined circumstances, such as self-defense.

Protection of individual freedom

The declaration says that members of the community of equals are not deprived of their liberty, and are entitled to immediate release where there has been no form of legal security. According to the proposed Declaration, the detention of apes who are not convicted of any crime or not criminally responsible should be allowed only if it is shown that the detention is in their own interest or necessary to protect the public. The declaration says that there must be a right to appeal, either directly or through a lawyer, a legal court.

The prohibition against torture

The declaration prohibits torture, defined as the intentional infliction of severe pain, if any great ape, either arbitrarily or on the basis of a perceived benefit to others. According to the International Human Rights Law this is a jus cogens principle and in all major human rights documents can not at any time be made the exception of any state.


Professor Colin Blakemore, head of the Medical Research Council in the UK the period 2003-2007, is against granting the right to non-human apes, stating “I see no current necessity for the use of great apes, and I’m glad they are not used and that all efforts are made to reduce the use of other primates. But I worry about the principle of where the moral boundaries. there is only a very safe definition that can be done, and it is between our species and others. “Blakemore suggests that it would be necessary to carry out research on the great apes of people threatened by a pandemic virus that affected only humans and other great apes. [3]

The latest developments

A study commissioned by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and conducted by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) concluded in a report (see report cards [4] ) was released December 15, 2011 as in “while the chimpanzee has been a valuable animal model in previous research, most current use of chimpanzees for biomedical research unnecessary. ” The primary recommendation is that the use of chimpanzees in research is guided by a set of principles and criteria, in practice greatly limit publicly funded research with chimpanzees. Falling short of calling for out-right ban on the use of chimpanzees for research, confirmed the report that emerging, or recurrent disease may require the use of chimpanzees, echoing Professor Colin Blakemore concern.

Francis Collins, director of the NIH announced the same day the report was released that he accepted the recommendations and will develop implementation plan that includes the formation of a committee of experts to review all applications received and projects already under way involving the use of chimpanzees. In addition, no new applications using chimpanzees seen until further notice. [5]

On September 21, 2012 announced the NIH to 110 chimps owned by the government will end. NIH owns about 500 chimpanzees for research, this move means the first step to phase out the NIH’s investment in chimpanzee research, according to Collins. Currently located at New Iberia Research Center in Louisiana, 10 of the retired chimps go to Chimp Chimp Haven sanctuary, while the rest will go to the Texas Biomedical Research Institute in San Antonio. [6] However, concerns over the chimp status in the Texas Biomedical Research Institute as “research eligibility” rather than “retired” prompted the NIH to reconsider the plan and announced October 17, 2012 that as many chimps as possible will be moved to Chimp Haven in August 2013 and eventually all 110 will move there. [7]

On January 22, 2013 released an NIH working group a report calling on the government to retire most of the chimps government support the US. The panel concluded that the animals give little advantage in biomedical discoveries except in a few cases, the disease can be supported by a small population of 50 primates for future research. Other methods, such as genetically altered mice should be developed and refined. [8] [9]

On November 13, 2013 the US Congress and Senate passed the “Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance and Protection Act,” the approval of funds to expand the capacity of Chimp Haven and other chimpanzees sanctuaries, which enables the transfer of almost all the monkeys that are owned by the federal government to live in a more natural, group setting than in the laboratory. The transfer is expected to take five years, when all but 50 chimpanzees, who will remain with the NIH, will be “retired”. [10]


  1. Jump up ^ A unique biomedical resource at risk. Nature (journal) 437, 30-32 (1 September 2005) | doi: 10.1038 / 437030a;
  2. Jump up ^ Declaration on Great Apes , Great Ape Project
  3. Jump up ^ Connor, Steve. [1] Scientists “should be allowed to test the monkeys’], The Independent, 3 June 2006.
  4. Jump up ^ “Chimpanzees in Biomedical and Behavioral Research: Assessment of necessity.” . Institute of Medicine. December 15, 2011. Retrieved December nineteen, 2011.
  5. Jump up ^ “Statement by NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins of the Institute of Medicine report discusses the scientific need for the use of chimpanzees in research.” National Institutes of Health . December 15, 2011. Retrieved December nineteen, 2011.
  6. Jump up ^ Greenfieldboyce, Nell (21 September 2012). “Government officials retire chimpanzees from Research”. NPR. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
  7. Jump up ^ Lisa Myers and Diane Beasley (17 October 2012). “Goodall praises NIH’s decision to remove some chimpanzees from research, but controversy erupted over their next home.” Retrieved 22 October 2012.
  8. Jump up ^ Flinn, Ryan (23 January 2013). “US Panel lights Restrictions medical use of chimpanzees.” Retrieved February 15, 2013.
  9. Jump up ^ Working Group on the use of chimpanzees in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) sponsored Research (22 January 2013). “Line Working Group on the use of chimpanzees in NIH-Supported Research Report” (PDF). YOU H.
  10. Jump up ^ Dizard, Wilson (15 November 2013). “Federal government to transfer laboratory chimpanzees to sanctuaries.” Aljazeera America . Be checked out three December 2013.